By Gary Stocks
Leading into a game coaches and players generally visualise their role and how that can lead to victory.
It’s a reasonable assumption to make that the pre-game visualisation and the reality that unfolded at Ray Owen Oval last Saturday were as far from removed as possible.
Those lining up to represent the O’Rourke Realty North Beach A-Grade team in the clash with Kalamunda had doubtless anticipated a strong win to finish the season. After all they were playing a club several places below them on the ladder and had managed some strong “away” wins in previous weeks.
Among those victories were a one-point thriller against North Fremantle and a pulsating three-goal win against Wesley Curtin at South Oval. There was an argument to suggest no team was in better form at the back end of the year.
But nothing happens automatically and Kalamunda were not without motivation. Victory would see them slip the relegation noose and hand it to North Fremantle. Long-serving coach Gary Armstrong would also guide his club for the last time.
Armstrong, who also coached senior football in the WAFL, had been engaged in something like 500 games, so the Cougars were not light on motivation.
The Beach knew that going in. They knew they had to withstand what would undoubtedly be an energetic start from their hosts. They needed to be strong and resilient in the first 10 minutes, make the most of opportunities. It did not happen.
Kalamunda were full of verve and enthusiasm, their fan base became engaged and North Beach could not thwart their electrifying start. The Beach had opportunities in the first term, but could not convert and the result was a five-goal quarter-time deficit.
It was going to take something special to turn this thing around from there and unfortunately the Beach could not find a way. Disappointingly, this would be one of their poorer efforts of the season.
On reflection, it was probably predictable. A young team that would not play finals, heading to the hills for the last game of the season in an inhospitable environment added up to a 10-goal loss. It wasn’t the way this 2015 campaign should end, but that’s exactly what happened.
There was some players who did everything within their capacity, like captain Beau Witheridge, defender Jamie Sajich, ruckman Kieren Yakas and forward Kyle Cranley who worked hard, but just couldn’t exert enough influence to drag teammates along.
The good news is that the Credent Financial Services A-Reserves are ready to roll into finals and a neat mix of experience and youth will give them some chance of replicating the feat of two years ago.
Against Kalamunda, they always had the measure of their opponent and won by four goals without ever being extended.
Young forward Mitch Cameron led the way with another youngster who graduated from last year’s colts team, Tom DeCourtenay, while Rob Scantlebury, Luke Pardini and Steve Bandy also offered drive and class.
The performance of the Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts was similar, doing enough to win against a gritty, physical opponent and using the game to prepare for a finals assault, starting this week.
The colts have been fantastic all year and boast some class in their ranks which will be needed against the likes of Mt Lawley and University.
Quality performances from the likes of Jacob Desmond, resolute at centre half-back, Adam Swain, Jordan Clair, Ben Harbers and Brad Waters steered the Beach to the line against Kalamunda and they will remain key players in the next month.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
Kalamunda 6.2 10.2 15.4 16.7 103
North Beach 0.5 2.6 2.7 5.11 41
Goals – North Beach: Cranley 2; Ekert, Reid, Yakas.
Best – North Beach: Witheridge, Sajich, Cranley, Ekert, Yakas, Irvine.
Credent Financial Services A-Reserves
North Beach 2.1 6.3 8.4 10.5 65
Kalamunda 1.3 2.4 3.4 6.5 41
Goals – North Beach: Cameron 3; Hall 2; Bandy, Ellis, Host, B Wilson, Stott.
Best – North Beach: Cameron, Scantlebury, DeCourtenay, Bandy, Pardini.
Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts
North Beach 9.12 (66) def Kalamunda 7.8 (50)
Best – North Beach: Desmond, Swain, Clair, Harbers, Waters.